In the midst of a busy day, it can feel counter-intuitive to make time for a lunch break. If nothing else, it can be tempting to work straight through in order to get more done. Unfortunately, the additional time spent working does not always correlate with increased production. Even if you aren’t hungry, take the opportunity to get out of the building for a change of scenery or to move around after sitting at your desk all morning. By allowing yourself to take such a break, you may find you are more productive in the second half of the day.
WHY NOT SKIP LUNCH?
Since the 2009 Recession, companies have had to make do with less, asking fewer employees to accomplish the tasks of a much larger workforce. As a result, some employees regularly work through lunch, believing it’s the only way to accomplish everything on their to-do list. Managers have since found that when workers did not take a break, they felt increased stress and made more mistakes. Additionally, their morale and productivity dropped. A recent study indicated that those who take lunch breaks “score higher on a wide range of engagement metrics, including job satisfaction, likelihood to continue working at the same company and likelihood to recommend their employer to others.” Further, Science Daily reports that “even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.”
FOUR WAYS TO USE YOUR LUNCH BREAK TO RECHARGE AND MAXIMIZE PRODUCTIVITY
Productivity is often increased by stepping away from work. A midday break can be both physically and mentally refreshing. The following are examples of how you can make the most of the time you are afforded.
1. BE ACTIVE
According to a Briston University study, exercise has been shown to increase productivity as much as 21%. While many professionals are unable to set aside time in the middle of their day to workout, their lunch break still affords time to be active. In fact, this same study recommends activities with low to moderate exertion, such as yoga, dancing and walking to see the most benefits.
2. TAKE A MENTAL BREAK
Stepping away, whether from behind a desk or on a jobsite, gives the mind and body a chance to rest as well. Breaks enable the both to recover and return to work refreshed. Mix that with a little activity, and it can go a long way towards improving your health and productivity.
3. ACHIEVE A BREAKTHROUGH
When stuck on a difficult problem, it’s easy to become hyper focused. Unfortunately, this can hinder creativity and critical thinking. Stepping away can help people relax or shift their focus, allowing their unconscious mind work out a resolution. This is called default network mode and is an effective way of resolving a vexing issue. Simply put, take a break when you are in a mental rut to enable your thought processes to become unstuck.
4. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Is your team skipping lunches to get more done? If so, you may want to point out the many benefits of breaks. Remind them of how their decision to skip lunches not just impacts their productivity but also the overall ability of the team to get the job done. Encourage all of the individuals to take breaks and demonstrate your commitment to this principle by doing the same. It will help everyone work more effectively and enable the organization’s long-term success.